COVID-19 has impacted our world massively over these past two years. A new normal has wriggled its way into our lives, irrevocably changing the way we look at our surroundings- both outside and inside. Consequently, it’s also changed the way we shop and the way we view businesses. Several small business owners lost their livelihood over the pandemic, and even now, many others are on the verge of the same. This is because the pandemic brought forth many significant challenges: Supply chains crunched, consumer demand plateaued, and unemployment soared.
At the same time however, one can hear success stories of businesses that quickly adapted to the changing demands, and increased their growth exponentially. So how did some businesses fail, while others flourished? The answer lies in the approach. The successful players leveraged the uncertainties of the pandemic, boosting their reach, and thinking up innovative solutions to the new problems brought forth by COVID-19.
Today, we take a look at some of the strategies that the innovative businesses used, and that even you can use in order to keep your business going strong in these trying times.
1. Acknowledge Changes And Make Arrangements Accordingly
The first step is to recognize and acknowledge that the pandemic has changed the world of business- possibly forever. We are now in a new world, a world of Work-From-Home and Zoom calls, a world of accelerated digitisation. There is no going back to ‘normal’.
As a result, it’s necessary to re-evaluate your business and what it stands for- that is, what value it provides to your consumers. Take a long hard look at your product line. Some products might no longer be relevant anymore, and some might see an increase in demand. You need to figure out which products are worth keeping, and devise your business strategies accordingly.
2. Have a Clear Business Plan Going Ahead
As the world economy regains pace and workplaces start reopening, one of the key things to keep in mind is the plan to implement for business growth from this point forward. Proper financial management and transparent movement of funds can put a lot of minds at ease, including those of your employees, customers and if you have any, investors.
Preparing a tentative budget and trying to stick to it to maximize profitability and streamlining the business finances are just some of the many things to think about. Ultimately however, the only one who can decide the way your business grows is you, and the plan for growth should be made keeping that in mind at all times.
3. Go All In On Social Media
Love it or hate it; social media is here to stay. And with it comes all the associated marketing and brand engagement opportunities to take advantage of.
The power of platforms like Instagram and Facebook can never truly be emphasized enough. It can catapult a business to fame in mere weeks, if done right. Therefore, it’s now necessary to optimise your social media pages and update them regularly, as well as expand your reach through collaborations and advertisements to give your business a personality for the customers to connect with.
It’s the little things that make a difference- a consistent design, regular live streams and surveys, exclusive deals and sales, and so on. An active and dedicated social media team goes a long way in helping your business get out there and attract growth.
4. Learn From Your Competitors
Fresh out of the pandemic in 2023 as businesses slowly start adapting to the new normal, it would be prudent to keep an eye out on what tactics your competitors are using to appeal to customers as well as what mistakes they might have made. Moreover, comparing yourselves to the competition using objective metrics can lay down plainly the areas where you might need work, and what you could be doing to give your customers a better experience.
While studying and analyzing the competition can be surprisingly helpful in certain situations, it would be folly to try replicating their strategies without adapting them, as the specific requirements and overall climate surrounding your business are likely to be different. What works perfectly for someone might not work as well for the other. Prior research and trial runs can help you gauge whether a certain tactic or plan is working as intended or not.
5. Future-Proof Your Work Environment
The pandemic has also paved the way for The Great Resignation, a social and economic movement where employees quit their jobs in large droves, dissatisfied with low wages and unhealthy work environments. Priorities have changed, and people now demand greater freedom and flexible working hours, as evidenced by the rise of WFH.
As such, in order to hire and retain skilled talent, you need to give them what they want. In other words, give them the option to work from home for the time being (in fact, many companies are now switching to permanent WFH).
With the advent of video conferencing and workflow management systems such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, people no longer need to be physically present all the time. This also ensures that they’re satisfied with their work-life balance. Remember, people do their best work when they’re feeling happy and motivated, not overwhelmed. Implementing these simple guidelines will go a long way in securing the loyalty of your employees.
6. Invest in Digital Marketing and SEO
While social media can help spread the word, in the end it is but one small part of the grand scheme of things. In a post-pandemic world where people are adjusting to remote work and many still work or study indoors, you can’t always rely on physical footfall in your brick and mortar stores. Establishing an online presence is now more important than ever. Therefore, setting up a digital marketing plan should receive top priority, including but not limited to setting up a website and updating it regularly, as well as an e-commerce marketplace if you are a retail business.
Your website should contain all the information a customer could ever need from you, be it in the form of blog pieces, marketing copies, or graphic designs. And more importantly, your team needs to be well-versed in SEO, that is, the art of getting your website up the rankings. This should be done as diligently as possible, because poor SEO techniques can greatly hamper the reach of your business. Some small SEO tips include:-
- Improve page loading times and website speed
- Use tools such as Google Analytics to analyze your performance
- Use Relevant keywords for your content
- Keep your website updated and fresh
7. Stay Grounded and Approachable
There is no one-for-all magic trick to keeping your customers happy, but if there was, the trick would probably lie here. Customers should find your business easy to approach and shop in. After the pandemic, the last thing people want is a cluttered and difficult buying process. Keep informed on all the latest consumer trends, adjust both your online and offline stores as the times pass, and make sure to stay on top of the industry news so you are not blown away by any sudden changes. Keeping your eyes and ears open, consulting and communicating with the customers, and being receptive to their suggestions, are some key tips to follow if you want the magic to happen.
Most of us would probably agree that the pandemic has brought forth many new and significant challenges for the world to face and solve through. While some have faltered, others have shown extraordinary resilience and strived against all odds to taste success. Henceforth, as COVID-19 goes endemic and people transition into a post-pandemic society, the deciding factor of whether many businesses will live or die boils down to adaptability. And here we have listed above the chief strategies that should give them edge over the competition, some of whom might unfortunately still be stuck in a lost time before the pandemic ever touched our world.
Thus, provided you follow them as best as you can, these tips ought to allow you to adapt to the rapid pace of the post-pandemic Earth, as well as hold your ground when newer and tougher challenges inevitably arise.